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Exploring Earth’s Past

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring Earth’s Past"— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring Earth’s Past

2 3 Basic Types of Rocks Igneous Crystalline
Cooling and hardening of magma Make up the majority of crust E.g., pumice Sedimentary result of the accumulation of small pieces broken off of pre-existing rocks Clastic: little pieces of broken up rock which have piled up and compacted Chemical: minerals left behind from water evaporation Organic: debris caused by organic processes E.g., sandstone Metamorphic Rock that has undergone chemical or structural changes due to heat and pressure E.g., marble

3 Some Vocab Subsidence - downward shift of a surface
Uplift - upward shift of a surface Plate tectonics - theory which describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere

4 Uniformitarianism versus Catastrophism
James Ussher (1581–1656) Earth's history has been dominated by cataclysmic events rather than gradual processes acting over long periods of time. E.g., formation of Rocky Mountains due to a single rapid event such as a great earthquake Uniformitarianism ("The present is the key to the past.”) James Hutton (1726–1797) Geologic processes operate at the same rates and with the same intensity now as they did in the past. Weathering of rocks and erosion of sediment Problem: Impact craters and fossil record

5 The Theory of Actualism
Laws of nature do not change with time Earth's history can be explained in terms of currently observable processes. But the rates of geologic change are not constant over long periods of time There have been some catastrophic geologic events

6 Finding Clues about Earth’s Past
Fossils Relative Dating Unconformities Rock Layer Correlation Radiometric Dating

7 Fossils Fossils

8 Formation of Fossils Original remains
Entire organism is preserved in its entirely E.g., frozen organisms, insects trapped in sap Replaced remains Soft part of organism is replaced with minerals E.g., Fossil bones, teeth and shells Molds and casts Hollow depression is formed in the rock - Mold Minerals seep into the mold - Cast E.g., shell fish Trace Fossils Impressions E.g., footprints, burrows Carbonaceous film Silhouette composed of a carbon film High T and P cause organic compounds to undergo chemical change

9 Organism must die in or near water
Remains are insulated from elements that contribute to decomposition Only soft part decomposes Sedimentation Remains are buried (soil, mud and land slides) Rapid sedimentation --> great for fossilization Clay versus sand Permineralization Lower sediment layers become compacted Pressure on fossil increases, turning sediments to rock Minerals glue particles of sediment together Minerals may replace hard remains Uplift Movement of plates Formation of mountains Sea floors become dry land Erosion Reveals fossils

10 Estimating Time Periods Using Relative Dating
Relative Dating - placement of events in sequence (not actual dates) Stratigraphic Laws Embedded Fragments

11 Stratigraphic Laws Law of Superposition Law of Original Horizontality
Oldest layer is at the bottom of the sequence Law of Original Horizontality Sediments and rock layers were deposited horizontally Topography controls the angle at which sediments are deposited locally.

12 Stratigraphic Laws Law of Lateral Continuity
Deposits originally extended in all directions Cross-Cutting Relationship Rock which intrudes by magma flow into existing rock is always younger than the rock it invades. Igneous intrusion

13 Embedded Fragments Rocks embedded in another rock are older than the rock in which they are found Pebbles in a conglomerate must have existed before the conglomerate formed.

14 Unconformities Gaps in the geologic record that may indicate episodes of deformation, erosion, and sea level variations. times when deposition stopped, an interval of erosion removed some of the previously deposited rock, and finally deposition was resumed.

15 Angular Unconformity Older package of sediments has been tilted, eroded, and then erosion, younger package of sediments was deposited on this erosion surface. Sediment deposition rocks are uplifted and tilted (deformation) erosion removes the uplifted mountain range; sea covers the land surface new sediments are deposited

16 Disconformities Erosion surface between two packages of sediment
lower package of sediments was not tilted prior to deposition of the upper sediment package. Subsidence and sediment deposition; uplift and erosion; Third: renewed subsidence and deposition.

17 Correlating Rock Layers
Matching layers from two locations Walking the Outcrop Outcrop - part of a layer that can be seen at the surface Easy way fo find if two layers are the same Difficulty if there is vegitation, erosion or thick soil Matching Rock Characteristics Matching Key Beds Single rock layer that is unique, easily recognizable and widespread Bentonite (clay material formed from volcanic eruptions) Dust and debris from impact craters Index Fossils Unique Abundant Found over a broad geographical area Occur only in a few rock layers (same time period formation)

18 Nonconformity Sedimentary layers are deposited on igneous or metamorphic rock Indication of long periods of erosion prior to deposition Record of major episodes of uplift, erosion and subsidence during growth of the continents Evidence for mobility of the crust

19 Measuring Absolute Time
Rates of Erosion and Sedimentation Not constant Only the ages of young geologic features Counting Tree rings 1 ring = 1 year Width = rainfall and temperature Varve Sediment that is deposited on a yearly cycle Clearest in glacial lakes formed during an ice age Thick, light colored sandy layer in summer Thin, dark-colored clay layer in the winter Radiometric Dating

20 Atomic Structure So, mass number (A) = #p+ + # n0
Subatomic Particle Location Charge Mass (g) Mass (u) Proton Nucleus Positive 1.67 x 10-24 1 Neutron Neutral Electron Orbiting the nucleus Negative 9.28 x 10-28 = 0 u = atomic mass unit (1 u = 1.67 x g) So, mass number (A) = #p+ + # n0 The mass number of an element is represented as relative mass numbers since the atoms are so small. The scale used is that of C-12 (C-12 = 12u). Standard Atomic Notation: AX Z

21 Isotopes Notice the masses in the periodic table!
They are not integers! The masses found in the periodic table are actually called atomic masses. They are weighted average of the mass numbers of the atoms of an element. Atoms of an element have different number of neutrons. They have the same number of protons, because Z is unique to the element Isotopes are forms of an element in which the atoms have the same number of protons but different number of neutrons.

22 Isotopes Atomic mass = 75.77% x 35 + 24.23% x 37 = 35.45 Symbol
Protons Neutrons Electrons Abundance 35Cl 17 Chlorine-35 18 75.77% 37Cl Chlorine-37 20 24.23% Atomic mass = 75.77% x % x 37 = 35.45 Protons and electrons are largely responsible for the chemical behaviour of an element, therefore isotopes may have the same chemical properties. But physical properties may vary. E.g., heavy water (H-2 aka deuterium) Is used in nuclear reactors.

23 Radioisotopes The isotopes of some elements are very unstable; they emit radiation when they decay, changing the composition of its nucleus These isotopes are called radioisotopes The radiation emitted can be either harmless or very dangerous

24 Types of Radiation Radiation Approximate Speed Penetration in air
Effective Barrier Alpha (a, 4He2+) 2 Variable, but relatively slow A few cm A sheet of paper Beta (b, e-) Variable, but relatively fast A few m 1-2 mm of metal Gamma (g) Very fast (speed of light) Unlimited 1 m of lead or concrete

25 Radioisotopes and Half-Life
Radioisotopes have characteristic half-lives. A half-life (T1/2) is the time it takes half of the nuclei in a radioactive sample to decay. Radiocarbon Dating (C-14 --> C-12) Great for dating fossils (C-14… T1/2 = 5730 years!). Ratio of C-14 to C-12: time elapsed since the death of the organism Uranium-Lead Dating (U > Pb-206) T1/2 for uranium is 4.5 billion years Dating of oldest rocks Rubidium-Strontium Dating (Rb-87 -->Sr-87) T1/2 is 47 billion years Dating of extremely old rocks Potassium-Argon Dating (K-40 -->Ar-40) T1/2 is 1.3 billion years K is very common in certain mineral rocks

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